UK

Hyde Park Bombing: Survivor Describes 'Painful' Explosion

Simon Utley was just 18 years old and on his first guard duty on the day of the blast.

A Hyde Park bomb survivor has described to a court his experience of the blast which killed four of his fellow soldiers.

Simon Utley was just 18 years old and was riding through the central London Park on his first guard duty with the Household Cavalry when a car bomb exploded on 20 July 1982.

The blast killed Squadron Quartermaster Corporal Roy Bright, 36, Lieutenant Dennis Daly, 23, Trooper Simon Tipper, 19, and Lance Corporal Jeffrey Young, also 19.

They were on their way to attend the changing of the guard.

A civil case being brought by the families of the four against suspect John Downey is being heard at the High Court.

Mr Downey, from County Donegal, has always denied any involvement in the attack. 

Giving evidence in London on Wednesday, Mr Utley's voice was full of emotion in court, as he recalled the attack.

Hyde Park bombing 1982
The aftermath of the Hyde Park bombing, 20 July 1982 (Picture: PA).

"I was riding along, it was my first guard so I was excited," he said.

"I remember I was talking to the guy to my left, just asking about what I would be doing later on... and then the bomb went off.

"It was a noise that I can't describe, but it was a painful noise because it took my eardrum out.

"Then I was aware of the heat and at that point, my horse just took off into Hyde Park.

"I couldn't stop it, it just galloped off with me on it. It took me a fair way into the park before I managed to stop it."

He described looking towards the scene of the explosion and said: "All I could see was black smoke just billowing."

Mr Utley said his horse was badly injured, seeing a hole "the size of a dustbin lid" in the body of the animal which later had to be put down.

Families bringing case against John Downey outside High Court 111219 CREDIT BFBS
Families of those killed in the blast outside the High Court in London.

He himself was hospitalised with a shrapnel wound that required an operation.

He also underwent a further operation to repair his eardrum. 

Also giving evidence, forensic explosives expert Kim Simpson said she believed the improvised explosive device (IED) was planted by the provisional IRA.

She said items found at the scene matched those found at other incidents the terrorist group had claimed responsibility for.

Ms Simpson told the High Court that the IED caused a "significant explosion" and was intended to "maim and kill". 

Mr Utley told the court that members of the Household Cavalry continue to pay their respects to those who were killed during the course of their daily duties.

Cover Image: Simon Utley outside the High Court.